Royal Ascot countdown: Charlie Hills hoping Battaash can keep his cool ahead of royal test

Wed 13 Jun 2018

Watch analysis of Battaash's run in the Temple Stakes at Haydock from Martin Dixon and Oli Bell from The Verdict.

Charlie Hills and his team are working on a strategy to try to keep the lid on Battaash before the stalls open in next week’s King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The four-year-old was an impressive four-length winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly at the end of last season and his clash with last year’s King’s Stand winner, the Wes Ward-trained Lady Aurelia, is set to be one of the highlights of the week.

Lady Aurelia finished in front of Battaash in the Nunthorpe at York last August, but Hills’ speedster blew his chance by getting worked up before the race.

“We’re trying to find the right strategy to put the saddle on and bring him out late – there are things we’ve thought through. We’ll try to go down nice and quiet and go down last, like he did at Chantilly and Haydock,” said Hills.

“He’s had a few niggly problems with the stalls so Craig and Gary Witheford will be with him as well. He’ll go in late with a blindfold, too.”

Battaash, who was victorious on his return at Haydock last month, underwent wind surgery after the Abbaye but Hills is not sure it has made much difference.

“The wind op happened over the winter, just a couple of weeks after he won the Abbaye,” he said.

“Back at Shadwell (Stud), he had a routine scope to check for ulcers and they found a trapped epiglottis, which is a pretty straightforward procedure.

“If that has improved him, then he’s going to be very hard to beat, but I don’t think it’s made much difference at all really.”

Battaash is a best-priced 5-2 favourite for Tuesday's sprint, with Lady Aurelia no better than 100-30. Paddy Power make then 5-2 each of two. Godolphin's Blue Point, who is being aimed at the race, is the next in the betting at 10-1.

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